Big Changes Coming To Tulsa Animal Welfare

posted November 15th, 2011 by
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Changes are coming to Tulsa

By Anna Holten-Dean

Changes are coming to TulsaEvery month, hundreds of cats, dogs and other animals are brought in to the Tulsa Animal Welfare Shelter. Ideally, they are adopted, rescued, fostered or returned to their owners. But reality – and the fate of the majority – is nowhere near ideal. In September, of the 656 dogs brought in, 418 were euthanized.

While the current circumstances are grim, the obvious need for a change (and a total revolution to the system) is not lost on animal welfare and city officials, as plans are in the works to change these monthly statistics and, most importantly, decrease euthanizations.
Tulsa Animal Welfare Shelter Manager Jean Letcher Jenkins tells TulsaPets Magazine the first step toward improvements came from the Mayor’s commissioning of KPMG, the national auditing, tax and advisory firm, to study all City operations. The Management Review Office was created in October 2010 to review and implement the KPMG Report suggestions. In July 2011, the MRO sent a Request for Information to 58 local and national animal welfare agencies to gather ideas on efficiency and effectiveness of Animal Welfare operations.

However, Jenkins says only three of the 58 organizations responded to the request, including Tulsa SPCA, Oklahoma Alliance for Animals (OAA), and the Humane Society of Tulsa (HST). “OAA’s suggestions expressed support for current programs and suggested other programs for increasing adoptions and encouraging spay/neuter,” she says.
“Tulsa SPCA made some suggestions, but said they have as much as they can handle with what they already have.

The Humane Society came back with a proposal of how they would like to help animals in the shelter. This kick started negotiations of a partnership/contract between the Humane Society and the Tulsa Animal Shelter.” The partnerships between Tulsa Animal Welfare and the Tulsa Humane Society is slated to transition over the next six months, and should save the lives of more animals as, hopefully, the new policy will be to hold all healthy and adoptable animals (no kill), unless sick. Jenkins says adoptions will be handled through the Humane Society, and she will continue to work toward implementing spay/ neuter laws, awareness of spay/neuter laws through classified ads, and an animal helpdesk.

While there seems to be hope on the horizon for the future of many Tulsa animals, Jenkins and all those at the Animal Shelter are already doing everything within their power to reduce euthanasia rates and the production of homeless pets, based on the results of a 2007 audit under Mayor Kathy Taylor’s administration. Taylor also put together a taskforce to look at the recommendations and prioritize them. Jenkins was hired to implement the recommendations, although it is a difficult, daunting task – comparable to extinguishing a forest fire with only a water gun.

Changes are coming to Tulsa“The audit of the shelter in 2007 recommended all kinds of things,” Jenkins says, “from ways of conducting euthanasia to redoing the floors. We implemented everything in the study that we could afford. Looking at our budget of 1.8 million per year, it is down from 2.2 million when I started. We would love to do more fostering than we do, but to do it right is a full time job. We mostly foster very young puppies and kittens. We don’t participate in a lot of events. The animals have to be in the shelter to be reclaimed. You can’t take them home in a foster situation and still have them shown for adoption. It is better for puppies to be fostered than dogs waiting to be reclaimed. Again not all recommendations have happened because we can’t afford it. We have anĀ $8 million facility in the long-term (5 year) plan. It consists of renovation and expansion of the existing facility as we are always full.” While the partnership is not finalized, Jenkins remains focused on the task at hand of reducing shelter – and ultimately, euthanization – numbers. She is currently working on implementing two programs, the first of which is for feral cats. She is pursuing a trap, neuter release program, along with a feral cat database. The second program will be a targeted spay/ neuter program for Pit Bulls, who make up 30 to 40 percent of shelter animals.

The result of the contract between Tulsa Animal Welfare and the Tulsa Humane Society remains to be seen.
The logistics are also not concrete, but hopes are high among those who have a stake in animal welfare that the number of euthanizations will decrease, while those rescued will increase, as that is the ultimate purpose – to save lives.

However, only time will tell what truly comes of the partnership, and TulsaPets Magazine will be covering the progress and updating all of you, the readers, who are concerned about the fate of Tulsa’s homeless animal population.

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